Characteristics of Patients with Cancer Readmitted Within 30 Days to an Acute Palliative Care Unit

Pierre El Hachem, Silviu Pasniciuc, Saurabh Khurana, Renato V. Samala, Lisa A. Rybicki, Ruth L. Lagman, Mellar P. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective(s): For patients with cancer, the emergence of acute palliative care units (APCU) may hold promise in curtailing hospital readmissions. The study aims to describe the characteristics of patients readmitted to an APCU. Methods: This retrospective study examined patients with cancer readmitted within 30 days to an APCU. Readmissions were further classified as either potentially preventable or non-preventable. Results: Out of 734 discharges from July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015, 69 (9%) readmissions were identified and analyzed. For index admissions, median length of stay was five days, and one (1%) was discharged home with hospice care. For readmissions, median time from index admission to readmission was nine days, median length of stay was six days, three (4%) patients died, and 20 (30%) went home with hospice. Ten (14.5%) readmissions were deemed potentially preventable (95% CI 7.2-25.0%). Race/ethnicity—White/Black/Hispanic/Others—was 60%, 10%, 20% and 10%, respectively, among potentially preventable readmissions and 76%, 22%, 2% and 0%, respectively, among potentially non-preventable readmissions (P =.012). Potentially preventable readmissions were more likely to have venous thromboembolism (40% vs. 12%, P =.046) and more reasons for readmission (median 2 vs. 1, P =.019). Conclusions: Among patients with cancer readmitted to an APCU, one out of seven was potentially preventable and a far larger proportion was discharged with hospice care compared to the index admission. Recognition of disease course, meaningful goals of care discussions and timely transition to hospice care may reduce rehospitalization in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-206
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Palliative Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • acute palliative care unit
  • cancer
  • palliative care
  • readmission
  • rehospitalization


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